Advertisement40 years. It seemed to go by in a blur, pounding the road, seeing the world, raising babies and sending them to college, mowing lawns, romances, marriages, high school drama, endless airports, the nights at the Hollywood Bowl, the night at the Red Barn in Louisville dodging various barroom projectiles, frozen diesel lines, blast furnace desert heat, hours of practice, late nights and early mornings, and lots and lots and lots of laughter.
40 years ago. No laptops, no cellular phones, no Google, no downloads, no Skype, no Tweets, no Apple, no Microsoft, no texting, no electric cars, no Uber. A different world. But there were three young men with drive and wit who wanted to keep a special music alive. They believed in preserving the heritage of Western Music and presenting it to a new generation. They believed in entertaining, and they did so… entertaining themselves as well as the audience! And they believed in creating original Western Music to continue the tradition, not just seal it in amber as a museum piece. What they did not realize at the time was that they would be doing the same thing 40 years later.
40 years ago, Ranger Doug, Too Slim and the late Windy Bill Collins played that first date on the bitter cold evening of November 11th, 1977 at Herr Harry’s Frank N’ Stein Rathskeller in Nashville, and small listening room dates followed. By August of the following year demand was building, and while Windy Bill left, Woody Paul joined, and the true professional beginnings of the band began at the Kentucky State Fair, where the trio played 10 days for $2500- and bought their own rooms and meals out of that!
A first wave followed, including appearances on Austin City Limits; recording contracts with Rounder, then MCA, then Columbia; guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry leading to membership in 1982; and a three-year run on The Nashville Network with a TV show called “Tumbleweed Theater,” which yet in turn led to a seven-year run on public radio with “Riders Radio Theater. People Magazine, interested in the Riders phenomenon, ran a story which happy caught the eye of a Hollywood producer.
And so the second wave broke, sending the boys to Hollywood to star in “Riders In The Sky” on CBS for a year on Saturday mornings, introducing them to yet another generation. More recordings, endless show dates, and television appearances followed for a decade before the fine folks at Pixar called and asked the quartet – by this time they had been joined by Joey the Cowpolka King – to sing a tune called “Woody’s Roundup” in the movie “Toy Story 2.” Thus, the third wave began, highlighted by a number of projects for Disney, including two albums, both of which won GRAMMY Awards!
The creation of satellite radio has recently given them a new platform, as they continue to produce episodes of the award winning “Classic Cowboy Corral” on Sirius/XM.
Still more road dates and recordings (several on their own Riders Radio Records label) and other film and television projects have filled the days and weeks and years, and since the quartet has slowed up very little, the numbers begin to add up: an astonishing 7,200+ appearances, 35 years on the Grand Ole Opry, 40 records albums (well, now CDs,) and tours of all 50 states and all over the world. Honors accumulated as well. In addition to the two Grammy Awards, Riders received numerous awards from the Western Music Association, including the highest: membership in the Western Music Hall of Fame; numerous Wrangler awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum; awards from the Academy of Western Artists; enshrinement in the Walkway of Western Stars, and more. What began as a celebration of classic Western Music and an evening of hilarity has become a career, and that career has become a legend, one which, 40 years on, shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down much.
Ranger Doug, Too Slim, Woody Paul and Joey the Cowpolka King… 40 years on, “The Cowboy Way.
The Austin Lounge Lizards are arguably the perfect pairing of their hometown’s slogan, “Live Music Capital of the World,” and its unofficial motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” Since 1980, the Lizards have been spoofing topics American families try to avoid at the Thanksgiving table: subjects like politics, religion, romance, and themselves. With pointed lyrics, precise harmonies and instrumental expertise, the band has become legendary for its satirical skewering through song.
The Lizards originated in 1976 in New Jersey, when Hank Card (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Conrad Deisler (vocals, lead guitar, mandolin) met as mutual history majors at Princeton University and started songwriting together. Following graduation, both Hank, a native Oklahoman, and Conrad, a Tex-Cali-Connecticut-Venezuelan, ended up in Austin. University of Georgia philosophy graduate and banjo/dobro player Tom Pittman completed the founding-troubadour trifecta in 1980, and the Austin Lounge Lizards was born.
With a series of talented fellow players and writers, the band began playing dates around Austin and across Texas. Soon, they had developed a widespread following of loyal Lizard fans, and by 1987, began appearing at festivals and concerts throughout North America and in the United Kingdom. Five-time winners at the Austin Music Awards, the Lizards have played many celebrated festivals, including California’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Strawberry Music Festivals, New York’s Grey Fox and Florida’s Stringbreak Festivals, Canada’s Vancouver and Edmonton Folk Festivals and Summerfolk, the Americana and Iron Bridge Festivals in the UK, and the Kerrville Folk Festival close to their home in Texas. They have also performed at dozens of prestigious concert venues, including The Barns at Wolftrap (Vienna, VA), the Freight & Salvage (Berkeley, CA), the Kuumbwa Jazz Center (Santa Cruz, CA), John Ascuaga’s Nugget (Sparks, NV), Eddie’s Attic (Atlanta), The Ark (Ann Arbor, MI), Calgary Folk Club (Alberta, Canada), the Bass Performing Arts Center & McDavid Studio (Fort Worth), McGonigel’s Mucky Duck (Houston) and Austin’s own Cactus Café.
After more than three decades, in 2011, Tom retired from the band to his stately mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. But the Lizards continue. Most recently, in December 2016, two former Lizards rejoined the group. The band is now made up of Hank, Conrad, Tim Wilson (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) and Kirk Williams (electric bass, vocals).
With their unique amalgamation of highly literate Ivy League roots; an appreciation for folk, country, bluegrass, and rock and roll musical styles; creative influences such as Frank Zappa, Spike Jones, George Jones, Homer & Jethro, and the Rolling Stones; and an unquenchable thirst for the absurd, the Lizards specialize in musical eclecticism, excellence and extreme entertainment.
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
04 Center, 2701 S Lamar Blvd,Austin,TX,United States, Austin, United States